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LTE smartphone sales to treble next year

New report says 4G handsets will gain economies of scale next year, with pricing pushing down to the midrange

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 21 December, 2012

READ MORE: Metrics | Handset | LTE

Global LTE smartphone shipments will treble next year, driving prices down, according to forecasts from Strategy Analytics.

The research firm predicts that shipments will rise from 90.9m units in 2012 to 275m in 2013 and by the end of next year, there will be a huge rise in availability of midrange models priced below $200 wholesale. However, according to executive director Neil Mawston, LTE will not spread to low end handsets until 2014 or 2015.


Although the smartphone market has been consolidating in the hands of Apple and Samsung in the past year, the rise of LTE and the new services it supports will diversify the mobile brands on the market, bringing in suppliers like Amazon, and even new operating systems like Mozilla's Firefox Mobile.

Most of these brands will cooperate with an established handset maker, as Google is with a variety of partners for its Nexus range. A recent prediction from CCS Insight said Amazon would make a similar deal with HTC, rather than designing its own product as it has with the Kindle tablets. The retail giant was recently reported to have hired its manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to start making smartphones for a spring launch. Meanwhile, Mozilla is to see its new OS debut in the first half of 2013 on handsets from Telefonica, initially targeted at Brazil.

The networks to support this rising number of LTE devices will rise to 209 commercial systems by the end of 2013, up from 166 now, with more of them supporting VoLTE voice, which is currently confined to a few carriers in South Korea and the US. The main countries driving LTE user growth in 2013 will be the US, UK, Japan, China and Korea, said the analysts.

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